Nick Nilsson AKA The Mad Scientist of Muscle, is a renowned personal trainer, body builder, and professional fitness writer who has written for Men’s Fitness, Reps Magazine, Muscle & Fitness and hundreds of fitness websites all over the internet. He is recognised throughout the fitness world as an innovator and pioneer of ground-breaking methods for building muscle and strength fast.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in a small town in British Columbia, Canada. My parents were always very supportive and I was always playing a variety of sports and doing athletic competitions.
One thing that always stands out to me as being a turning point in my life happened during a cross-country ski race when I was about 12 years old. It really showed me what I’m truly capable of and how I am just a little bit crazy…
I was entered in a 10 km race. As I was nearing the middle of the race, I came to a crossroads…literally. There was a sign that said “10 km Race turn here” and it pointed to the right. Then below that, the sign read “40 km Race turn here” and pointed to the left.
I looked once at that sign and said to myself “I’m going to do the 40 km race.”
And I DID it.
I don’t remember how I placed but I remember that I finished the entire distance. And after completing it, I realized one big thing… you never really know what you’re capable of until you push your limits.
And I’ve been doing that ever since.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Buy Bitcoin when it was a dollar.
In all seriousness, though, it is related to that. I wish I would have realized the power of investing earlier in my life. The earlier you start with that, the better.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
There are a lot of poor coaches and trainers in the fitness industry…and there are a lot of excellent ones as well.
The worst advice I’ve seen usually comes in the form of exercise instruction that actually hurts a person. It’s one thing to have a training program that doesn’t get you results…it’s another to be doing an exercise incorrectly so that you actually cause an injury.
I see that all too often in trainers who are more concerned about how they look on social media and how much money they’re making versus actual client results.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
My mother passed away from cancer almost 5 years ago. Losing your parents is one of those things that happens to almost everybody (assuming you don’t go first). The toughest part for me was watching her suffering through the symptoms and the treatments and knowing that I was doing everything I could to help but it still ended up not being enough.
The most important thing I learned is that as long as you’re doing the best you can, you can’t take that full burden of responsibility onto yourself, especially with something like cancer. At some point, you have to accept that you can’t change the outcome by force of will.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
That would be my determination to follow through and implement the ideas that I have. They may not always work, but I will always try.
Many people have ideas but not every actually moves forward and tries them out.
What is your morning routine?
I get up anywhere between 7-8 am. I don’t have a specific time. Then I take a few supplements then walk my dogs, then have breakfast, then get to work.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Honestly, it’s a habit that I’ve been doing for more than 30 years…regular weight training. I don’t work out every day but it’s a habit that is the most beneficial thing a person can do, in my opinion. It helps both physically and mentally in so many ways.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I work on my projects in chunks. I’ll get done what needs to get done then move onto a different project to keep things more fresh mentally.
I find when I hammer away at one thing for too long, I start to get distracted and my productivity slips.
When you accomplish goals (even small things), then you feel like you’re moving forward.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
There are two books that have really influenced me…one personally and one professionally.
Personally, The Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkein is the most prominent to me. The way he created an entire world and the lessons of how the characters acted selflessly for the greater good was always impressive to me.
And the idea that even the smallest person can change the course of history always stood out.
Professionally, it was a training book called Serious Growth. This was a book/training program that really opened my eyes to how the body responds to training and how to maximize muscle growth and strength. I base most of my own programs on the concepts I learned in that book.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
There’s a single quote by Arnold Schwarzenegger that really stands out to me. It really sums up what I’m all about in terms of embracing what makes you different.
“What is the point of being on this earth if you’re going to be like everyone else?”